What is Luxury?
Excessive individualism is a decisive factor when attempting to define luxury. Even scientists find it difficult to define why joie de vivre sometimes fades away, which is not an unfamiliar condition for narcissists. Self-realisation, self-representation and individualism are social ideals that help to stimulate consumerism. The desire to be special is of key importance.
According to Kant (German philosopher 1724 – 1804), opulent luxury serves culture, the arts and the sciences, whereas excessive public indulgence is tasteless and thus has no positive effect on our welfare. From an economic viewpoint, Kant considers opulence to be an unnecessary expense that makes us poor, while indulgence makes us sick. One thing is certain: An overdeveloped feeling of vanity is not a question of intelligence, since stupid and clever are close associates. Self-realisation and individualism are social ideals, which is why I keep asking myself why everyone wears the same clothes. Is our individuality just a fake?
The luxury market is large and continues to grow, but the rules of the game are constantly changing. A recent BCG (Boston Consulting Group) study indicates that fewer products are purchased, but more experience. The study suggests that the experience segment will account for almost two thirds of the total luxury market in 2022. Online commerce plays an ever more important role in this regard. New products and new tailor-made services are offered. The scope is expanding, and consumers are now being addressed who were formerly unreachable. Today, 7% of the global luxury market is processed via online commerce, and that figure will rise to 20% by 2020. In short, building bridges with social media that allow consumers to interact with a brand seems to be the secret recipe for building a broad customer base as quickly as possible. In principle, the consumer believes in the brand. The more famous it is, the more luxuriously they will assimilate the lifestyle that is served to them as a tasty dish by means of professional marketing techniques. Marketing lays down the law with words to make hard facts palatable and increase consumption. The other side of the coin: Social media is one of the most expensive forms of engagement, especially if it stops working for a minute.
Here at LUC8K, we see things differently. We have been engaged in online commerce ever since the company was founded in June 2016, and sustainability has been part of our programme from the very beginning. Just like everyone else, we want to sell and make a profit. However, the yardsticks are different when we adapt our business to the environment and do not sail blithely into the middle of the storm, regardless of what this may cost. Our attitude lies somewhere between being well-informed and having fun. It’s not just a case of black and white. There is no need for us to annoy people every day in order to make them aware of environmental problems. We believe that sustainability is part of a way of thinking. We don’t pray, we stimulate! Nature will always find a way to feel small. Climate change is a reality. How can critics possibly come up with the idea of making the climate crisis a question of political orientation? My children’s generation is very aware of climate issues and of nature.
In my opinion, information creates trust, and silence creates fear. The world cannot be changed by ideas, but by actions.
Yes, we manufacture leather bags and leather accessories. And the bloody trail created by leather bags, shoes and car seats may lead back to the Amazon, or to India, Bangladesh and China. Not as far as we are concerned: we strive to offer transparency, because transparency is a prerequisite for sustainability. Unfortunately, uncertainty still reigns at the moment because the market is global and huge quantities of leather and leather goods are being dumped onto the market. That is why we find it critically important to know our suppliers personally and work with tanneries that incorporate waste water recycling into the tanning process. This only happens in Europe.
We take full advantage of the capability of European suppliers to produce our bags using sustainable methods throughout the entire manufacturing process – all the way through to the packaging that is used to ship our products all over the world. Another important factor is that each bag is crafted by hand. We procure everything we need to produce our bags in Europe: the leather, the lining, the thread, the rivets, the zips, the magnets… even the gold thread. Since export duties have increased so much and the transport to France by plane produces more CO2 than if we transported everything by road, we decided to relocate production from Casablanca to France this year. Unfortunately, “Made in France” is more prestigious than France and the production location in France embodies “savoir-faire”, so we are spending more money on luxury.
My Two Cents
But in our opinion, the real luxury is time. Not the time it takes to make our bags by hand, but the time it takes our customers to choose their own bag or colour combination. A very valued customer, who has always been a doctor, once said to me: “Karen, in my profession I have to make decisions within seconds, even difficult ones, but I can’t manage to choose a bag. The more I play around with the colours and change them, the more difficult it is for me to choose a bag. I just love them all”. We are well aware that our “spoilt for choice” business model is forcing us into a niche market. Nevertheless, from a holistic perspective, we are convinced that offering multiple options is appropriate, especially in the context of transparency and sustainability.
We don’t do comparison shopping. Being unique is the most enjoyable when enough others are as well – otherwise, no one else would know how much money you have invested. So the important thing isn’t being unique, it’s being faster. And we are.
Discover what Forbes magazine writes about LUC8K and the challenges about producing sustainable luxury goods.